Chitwan Royal National Park (World Heritage)
The region near the border with India was a royal hunting ground for over a hundred years. The national park has been a sanctuary for the endangered Indian rhinos and Bengal tigers since 1962.
Chitwan Royal National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Chitwan Royal National Park|
|Natural monument:||1846 to 1951 royal hunting area, 1962 establishment of a rhino sanctuary, since 1973 national park, which was expanded to 932 km² in 1977, heights of 150 to 815 m on the Churia Range; subtropical climate with summer monsoons and precipitation averaging 2400 mm / year|
|Location:||between Dauney Hills and the Dhoram, Narayani and Rapti rivers in the Nepalese-Indian border area|
|Meaning:||one of the largest and least modified occurrences of Salbaumwald; Home to the world’s second largest population of Indian rhinos|
|Flora and fauna:||70% a sal tree forest with pure occurrence of sal trees in the park interior, also mixed forests with sal tree and chir pine, also rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) and the Dillenia indica, which belongs to the Dilleniaceen, with 16 cm large flowers and fleshy sepals, 20% grassland; 68 species of mammals such as the Indian rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, Gaur as the most powerful living wild cattle, the Hulman, the great red marten, the honey badger, the banded linsong, which belongs to the crawling cats, the cane cat, the Indian sambar, which belongs to the noble deer, and the Chinese ear pangolin; 56 species of reptiles and amphibians such as tiger python, marsh crocodile and gharial; over 540 species of birds such as Garrulax ruficollis, which is one of the jays, run chicken, laggar falcon, coromandel cuckoo, the hirundapus cochinchinensis, which belong to the spiny-tailed swift, and the black-headed pitta; 126 species of fish|
Refuge for Indian rhinoceros and Ganges gavial
When the mighty lacquer tree is covered in cascades of bright orange-red beak blossoms in spring, you understand why it is called the “flame of the forest”. But in view of this splash of color in the subtropical jungle, it should not be overlooked that the Chitwan National Park was able to preserve the original lowland monsoon forest, which – with the exception of very few remains in the rest of the lowland – has disappeared before the mountains of the mighty Himalayas. Until the middle of the 20th century, this region was a preferred hunting area for the wealthy nobility, especially the Rana family ruling Nepal, because of its abundance of large game. They invited members of the English aristocracy to true hunting orgies, which ended in a similar way to the one that was organized for the Anglo-Indian viceroy Lord Linlithgow. In the course of this driven hunt, which lasted 68 days, the illustrious hunting party shot 120 tigers, 38 rhinos, 28 leopards, 15 bears and eleven crocodiles. Fortunately, after the fall of the Rana rulers, the time of the great hunts came to an end. However, the populations of large mammals had shrunk significantly. Only a few rhinos and a few tigers hid in the meter-high elephant grass. So it was high time something was done to protect the animal species that are becoming extinct. First a rhino sanctuary was established in the 1950s, which was later joined by a gavial conservation project. Decades later, the region finally received the status of a national park, in which flora and fauna are largely protected from stalking.
If you want to observe the diverse animal world, you can best do so from the back of the riding elephant. From the swaying pachyderms, one or the other visitor to the park first looks north over the billowing carpet of elephant grasses, where on clear days the distant snow peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna greet the plains above the early mist. Indian gape beaks, which can easily crack the hard shells of snails and mussels with their beak gaping in the middle, perch on their clumps high up in individual groups of trees.
Suddenly there is a rustling in the grass near a small watercourse, and a mother rhino with her cub by her side steps out into the open. Since she does not classify the elephants as a danger, you are lucky as an observer, because you can get within a few meters of mother and child. In a clearing, a dark-striped, orange-brown fur disappears with smooth movements in the tall grass: a tiger! Encounters with this mighty big cat are rare and usually only last a few moments.
On the wooded arms of the Narayani River, several raven-sized hornbills are doing gymnastics in the branches of some anointing trees and seem to want to attract all the attention of the other forest dwellers with croaking cries. A helmet-shaped attachment that looks like an elongated nasal horn sits on its thick, yellow beak. On a slowly flowing stretch of river, three points protruding from the water can be seen: the eyes and the hump of a Ganges gavial. If you take a closer look, you will also notice the reptile’s long, narrow snout, with which it is extremely skilled at catching fish. In the rearing station near Kasarah you also have the opportunity to marvel at these armored lizards of different ages and sizes up close.